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A divine experience at Wounded Knee

Every summer, I go to a few powwows. It is a way to get spiritually re-centered, and to watch the dancers of all ages offer their talents to their Creator.

Three years ago, I went to Wounded Knee, where a huge celebration had been listed on the Internet. It was the first annual powwow, for the remembrance of the massacre and the conflict of the siege in 1973 .

I had reserved a room in Martin, a little town 40 miles from Wounded Knee. My friend and I checked in and when the desk clerk asked what was bringing us here, I responded with excitement that we were here for the big celebration. The man did not immediately react, which should have told me something was array. He mentioned, though, that they were having a powwow right in town at the rodeo grounds.

On Friday, we drove to the Pine Ridge Reservation where Wounded Knee is located. It was another world. My heart ached when I saw the desolation and the poverty of this tiny town. We pulled into the grounds, entered a circular building where we signed a guest book, and picked up the schedule of the events. We returned to our hotel and decided to go to the little powwow in Martin. I watched the dancers in their regalia, celebrate  their traditions, enjoying visiting with relatives and friends. As I was listening to the drums, I saw a young boy of about 10-years-old in red regalia, who was holding on to a walker, his father at his side.

With incredible dignity and pride, this child danced all night the best he could in spite of his tremendous handicap. Tears came to my eyes. I felt humbled and honored to be among a people who, in spite of tremendous challenges in their lives, are willing to celebrate their culture and honor their Creator.

The following day we headed to Wounded Knee for the Big Celebration. The sky was grey and the wind was blowing. As I turned towards the deserted parking lot, I knew something was not right. Two vendors were there working on their crafts. I walked toward a woman, and asked her why nobody was there yet. As if she had known me forever, she proceeded to tell me that there was no such event. We had been victims of a terrible fraud, perpetuated by an individual who, through intimidation and lies was collecting funds from strangers for his personal use. I was dumbfounded and angry for the people of this struggling town.

My friend was watching me closely, knowing how I feel about injustice towards those less fortunate than us. When I drove away I felt sick and bewildered, then I realized that there was a divine reason  for all of this, and the picture of that young boy in the Martin's powwow came into my mind. He had been sent to me to show me that regardless of negative external forces, we can endure. Through a profound spiritual connection, we can dance and offer our struggles to the Great Spirit, no matter what is done to us by unscrupulous individuals.

I am forever grateful for this little warrior for the lesson he taught me that day.